FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Report No. 932

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1 FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Report No. 932 FIRF/R932 (En) ISSN Report of the FAO/UNEP EXPERT MEETING ON IMPACTS OF DESTRUCTIVE FISHING PRACTICES, UNSUSTAINABLE FISHING, AND ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED AND UNREGULATED (IUU) FISHING ON MARINE BIODIVERSITY AND HABITATS Rome, September 2009

2 Copies of FAO publications can be requested from: Sales and Marketing Group Office of Knowledge Exchange, Research and Extension Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Fax: Web site:

3 FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Report No. 932 FIRF/R932 (En) Report of the FAO/UNEP EXPERT MEETING ON IMPACTS OF DESTRUCTIVE FISHING PRACTICES, UNSUSTAINABLE FISHING, AND ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED AND UNREGULATED (IUU) FISHING ON MARINE BIODIVERSITY AND HABITATS Rome, September 2009 FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS Rome, 2010

4 The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned. ISBN All rights reserved. FAO encourages reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product. Non-commercial uses will be authorized free of charge. Reproduction for resale or other commercial purposes, including educational purposes, may incur fees. Applications for permission to reproduce or disseminate FAO copyright materials and all other queries on rights and licences, should be addressed by to: or to the Chief, Publishing Policy and Support Branch Office of Knowledge Exchange, Research and Extension FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome, Italy FAO 2010

5 iii PREPARATION OF THIS DOCUMENT Following a decision by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at its ninth meeting (Bonn, May 2008), the CBD Secretariat and FAO collaborated in the compilation of a report on the impacts of destructive fishing practices, unsustainable fishing, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing on marine biodiversity and habitats. A working document was first prepared for review and endorsement by an international Group of Experts, through an Expert Meeting which took place at FAO in Rome in late September Two consultants, William Cheung (in collaboration with Jonathan Anticamara) and John Caddy, were recruited to compile the information available on the issues of unsustainability and IUU on the one hand and destructive fishing on the other. Because of lack of time, the working document could not be finalized into a satisfactory fully integrated and comprehensive study and was therefore not endorsed by FAO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) or CBD. Nonetheless and in order to facilitate the work of the Expert Meeting, the working document was summarized and structured into an extended summary by Serge M. Garcia (Consultant) focusing on the key conclusions regarding the impacts and the main points of action for policy-making and management to be considered eventually by Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 14) and the Conference of the Parties (CoP 10). This report is the main output of the expert meeting and provides: (i) key conclusions on the impacts of unsustainable fishing, destructive fishing practices and IUU fishing on marine biodiversity and habitats; and (ii) elements of policy and management aiming at the mitigation, reduction and, where possible, elimination of the impacts of fisheries on biodiversity and habitats.

6 iv FAO; UNEP. Report of the FAO/UNEP Expert Meeting on Impacts of Destructive Fishing Practices, Unsustainable Fishing, and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing on Marine Biodiversity and Habitats. Rome, September FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Report. No Rome, FAO p. ABSTRACT An expert meeting on the impacts of destructive fishing practices, unsustainable fishing, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing on marine biodiversity and habitats was held in Rome from 23 to 25 September The meeting was attended by three members of the Fisheries Expert Group (FEG) of the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), three participants from the Secretariat of the Convention of the Biological Diversity (CBD) (two of which were consultants), one from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), three international experts and eight participants form FAO headquarters. The purpose of the Expert Meeting was to: i. Review a synthesis document (extended summary) prepared in advance of the meeting, ensuring that all key issues were covered and that conclusions fully reflected the present understanding. ii. Elaborate a report containing: (i) key conclusions on the impacts of unsustainable fishing, destructive fishing practices and IUU fishing on marine biodiversity and habitats; and (ii) elements of policy and management aiming at the mitigation, reduction and, where possible, elimination of the impacts of fisheries on biodiversity and habitats. This report provides an overview of key conclusions and related action points for management regarding the impacts of overfishing, destructive fishing and IUU fishing on marine biodiversity and habitats.

7 v CONTENTS Page 1 DEFINITIONS Unsustainable fishing Overfishing Destructive fishing practices Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) 1 2. OVERFISHING Key conclusions on impacts Action points for policy and management Drivers and constraints Instruments and measures 4 3. DESTRUCTIVE FISHING PRACTICES Key conclusions on impacts Action points for policy and management Drivers and constraints Instruments and measures 8 4. ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED AND UREGULATED (IUU) FISHING Key conclusions on impacts Action points for policy and management Drivers and constraints Instruments and measures SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS Blending biodiversity and traditional fisheries management Acceptable level of impact Recovery and reversibility Integrated management (IM) and the ecosystem approach (EA) to fisheries 16 APPENDIXES 1 List of participants 29 2 Agenda and timetable 31

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9 1 1. DEFINITIONS The following definitions indicate the understanding of the expert group. They are general in nature and in order to operationalize them, they need to be considered in the context of a specific fishery, ecosystem, management framework, etc. 1.1 Unsustainable fishing The term unsustainable fishing describes: (i) a situation (in contradiction with the Law of the Sea Convention) characterized by overfishing or inadequate fishing pattern; (ii) fishing activities that lead to long-term losses in the biological and economic productivity, biological diversity, or impacting ecosystem structure in a way that impairs functioning of the exploited system across several generations. For the purpose of this report, and following the CBD requirements, unsustainable fishing will be decomposed in partly interconnected components as follows: (i) Overfishing; (ii) Destructive fishing; and (iii) IUU fishing. It is recognized that extreme forms of overfishing could be destructive and that IUU is an aggravating factor of both overfishing and destructive fishing. 1.2 Overfishing The term covers three interconnected phenomena: biological overfishing, economic overfishing and ecosystem overfishing. Biological overfishing of whatever exploited species (target or non-target) is defined as a situation in which the fishing pressure exerted on the species is higher than the pressure theoretically required for harvesting the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), or would, if continued in the medium term, impair the population productivity. Economic overfishing occurs when a fishery is generating a rent lower than the maximum rent obtainable (e.g. below maximum economic yield [MEY]), primarily because an excessive level of fishing effort was applied. Ecosystem overfishing is defined as the situation in which the long-term historical species balance (i.e. species composition, dominance, and their natural oscillations) have been significantly modified by fishing e.g. the reductions of fish predators can lead to increases of small and short-lived species at lower trophic levels. 1.3 Destructive fishing practices The term refers to the use of fishing gears in ways or in places such that one or more key components of an ecosystem are obliterated, devastated or ceases to be able to provide essential ecosystem functions. From an ecosystem and precautionary approach perspective, destructive fishing refers to the use of gears and/or practices that present a high risk of local or global damage to a population of target, associated or dependent species or their habitat, to the point of eliminating their capacity to continue producing the expected goods and services for present and future generations, particularly if recovery is not possible within an acceptable time frame. Few, if any, fisheries are consistently destructive. Only a very small number of fishing gears or fishing methods are recognized as inherently destructive wherever and however they are used, the primary examples being explosives and synthetic toxins. In the absence of any formal agreement regarding the term, the classification of a gear or practice as destructive is a policy choice related to pre-set objectives and consistent with national and international law. 1.4 Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing IUU fishing is defined in the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal Unreported Unregulated Fishing as follows: Illegal fishing refers to: the following fishing activities: (i) those conducted by national or foreign vessels in waters under the jurisdiction of a State, without the permission of that State, or in contravention with its law and regulations; (ii) those conducted by vessels flying the flag of States that are parties to a relevant regional fisheries management organization, but operate in contravention of the conservation and management measures adopted by that organization; or (iii) those conducted in violation of national laws or international obligations, including those undertaken by cooperating States to a relevant regional fisheries management organization (RFMOs). Unreported fishing refers to: (i) fishing activities which have not been reported, or have been misreported to the relevant national authority, and in contravention of national laws and regulations; or (ii) fishing activities

10 2 undertaken in the area of competence of RFMO, which have not been reported, or have been misreported, and in contravention of the reporting procedures of that organization. Unregulated fishing refers to: (i) fishing activities in the area of application of a relevant RFMO, that are conducted by vessels without nationality, or by vessels flying the flag of a State not party to that organization, or by vessels in a manner that are not consistent with or contravenes the conservation and management measures of that organization; or (ii) fishing activities in areas, or for fish stocks in relation to which there are no applicable conservation or management measures, and where such fishing activities are conducted in a manner inconsistent with States responsibilities for the conservation of living marine resources under international law. 2. OVERFISHING 2.1 Key conclusions on impacts The detrimental ecosystem effects of overfishing can be direct or indirect. Direct effects are those that result directly from excessive fishing activities such as excessive mortalities of target or non-target species. Indirect effects emerge as a feed-back or feed-forward delayed response of the fishery system such as changes in the species assemblages arising from: (i) thinning or elimination of prey populations (bottom-up forcing); (ii) excessive reduction of predators (top-down effect); and (iii) altering the size composition or the life history traits of the resource. Further, species important to system function may be affected by overfishing such as excessive removals of herbivores can lead to habitat modification. These effects tend to become more acute with the increase in fishing pressure. Phenomena connected to (and susceptible to increase) overfishing include: unreported bycatch and discards, ghost fishing and IUU fishing which are sources of underestimation of the fishing pressure and hence a potential contributing or aggravating factor of overfishing. The impacts of overfishing on marine species diversity can be expressed in the following forms: (i) the modification of community structure (e.g. trophic structure); (ii) the reduction in species richness or other taxonomic diversity indices; and (iii) risk of local extinction (i.e. severe reduction of the impacted populations to the extent that they become threatened, endangered, or even locally extinct). The world situation of fisheries and of the ecosystems they use is not satisfactory and provides the context for a discussion of fishing policies and practices that, directly or indirectly have led to a high degree of unsustainability of the sector at global level, with some highly instructive exceptions. The paradox is that fishers cannot exist without a healthy resource system and the fishery sector is of high importance for the livelihood of a large community of users highly dependant on fishing and for the food security of some 200 million people, especially in the developing world, where one in five people are dependent on fish as their primary source of protein. The sustainability of seafood supplies is a major concern of FAO which estimates that almost 28 percent of exploited stocks are overexploited, depleted or recovering. Approximately 95 percent of the world's marine production depends directly or indirectly on the productivity of coastal ecosystems and shallow continental shelves. Obviously, for many areas, fisheries are a major stressing factor on marine ecosystems and the problems relate to weak governance, excessive fishing capacity and inappropriate gears and practices. Some fishing gears are known to be more selective than others but no fishing gear is perfectly selective in relation to the targeted species/sizes. As a consequence, it is inevitable that unwanted species and sizes of fish will be captured. Discarding practices have been estimated to lead to 7 million tonnes of fish being rejected dead at sea. While apparently in clear decline, the phenomenon still creates concern. Most fishery management systems do not include mandatory reporting of discards. The biodiversity implications are that the diversity and quantity of species caught are not accurately known, affecting stock, environmental impact, and risk assessments. Improved selectivity of gears and practices is a way to reduce

11 3 discards. It must be noted, however, that the final ecosystem impact of selectively harvesting and protecting species is not yet completely understood and needs to be assessed when measures are proposed. It is important to realize that, despite their conspicuous imperfections, fisheries are still the most ecologically-compatible system of meat production, in terms of ecological footprint as well as energy consumption per tonne of meat produced. Terrestrial biodiversity would be severely impacted if the 190 million tonnes of fish that, according to FAO (in SOFIA 2002), will be needed by 2030 (of which 85 percent directly for human food) were to be replaced by terrestrial meat production. Estuaries, salt marshes, shallow bays and wetlands, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass beds are also habitats or spawning/rearing areas for species later caught further offshore. Together with inland waters, coastal ecosystems are also the most affected by nutrient and pollution runoff from land. This has a probably important and yet un-assessed impact on fisheries productivity and fish quality. In addition, many fishing impacts on aquatic systems are indeed exacerbated by an often irreversible environmental degradation. 2.2 Action points for policy and management Ecosystem overfishing is irresponsible according to the FAO Code of Conduct. In terms of impacts on marine biodiversity and habitats, excessive or sustained overfishing depletes targeted population, changes the dynamics of the impacted ecosystems, modifies life history traits, some of which may have a genetic component, and modifies the used habitats, beyond the limits imposed by society (e.g. in compliance with the concepts of sustainable use and responsible fisheries). It should be stressed that, in so doing, ecosystem overfishing also threatens the social and economic viability of fishing communities, their livelihoods, and food security, both locally and globally. Directed fishing on specific stocks may increase the biological or economic outputs of the ecosystem and societies may choose to permit such changes. However, this would likely lead to loss of biodiversity. Even if major changes to an ecosystem caused by excessive or sustained overfishing have increased overall productivity or have enhanced an ecosystem service that society values, there has been a loss of biodiversity in achieving that outcome. These costs need to be part of the planning and debate of policy and management. Many of the concepts in policy and management measures discussed below are complex, and there are major differences between small-scale and large-scale fisheries that affect many of the considerations below. FAO has developed guidelines on practice and implementation for the precautionary approach, ecosystem approach and many other such terms and concepts. All that guidance should be taken into account when considering these terms and concepts in the context of conservation of biodiversity Drivers and constraints The key drivers of overfishing stem from open access to fish resources, either in the form of the western tradition of freedom of the seas, or for much of the world loss of traditional community control. The phenomenon is fuelled by human quest for food and livelihood and the related economic and social forces. It is accelerated by demography (and related food demands), short-term economic profits and inadequate governance. The consequence is the heavy overcapitalization and/or excess fishing capacity existing in most countries, often supported by subsidies and inappropriate incentives and management measures. Major factors that constrain the fight against overfishing include: (i) the lack of alternative livelihoods, particularly in rural areas; (ii) the lack of allocation of rights appropriate to the social and economic context of the fishery; (iii) inadequate governance, particularly lack of institutional cooperation and, coordination, both between fisheries and environmental agencies and across industry sectors; (iv) conflicting objectives, differences in risk tolerances, and differing expectations of the diverse groups of stakeholders; (v) the insufficient capacity in management institutions, and particularly for monitoring, control and surveillance; (vi) the incomplete knowledge about the resources and their ecosystems; and (vii) the difficulty to carry out traditional experiments with proper replication, in real-world fisheries. The latter constraint is particularly acute in relation to the implementation of the ecosystem approach to fisheries. Not all the drivers and constraints will apply to any single fishery or set of fisheries. An evaluation of the biodiversity concerns associated with any particular fishery, relative to the social and economic context of the fishery, is necessary, as a basis for incorporating biodiversity in fisheries management.

12 Instruments and measures International and regional instruments The overarching principles for sustainable fisheries have been agreed and are enshrined in a number of international fishery instruments adopted for oceans governance, including the 1982 UN Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC); the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement, the 1995 UN Fish Stock Agreement and the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible fisheries. With their accompanying guidelines and action plans, they represent a comprehensive framework for fisheries policy and management and have been translated in fisheries legislation in most fishing nations. If these instruments were fully and effectively implemented then sustainability and conservation of biodiversity would largely be achieved. Other instruments have been adopted to deal specifically with biodiversity and conservation, but have strong implications for fisheries: 1. The 1948 IUCN Red List of Endangered Species Assessment aims at providing a comprehensive, scientific, and rigorous examination of conservation status of species. Few marine species are presently assessed under the Red List but efforts are being made to fill the gap, particularly for key commercial species or particularly vulnerable species groups. The Red List process specifically identifies species or populations whose viability may be threatened directly or indirectly by fisheries, and where the need for conservation measures is particularly urgent. 2. The 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), aiming at conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from its genetic resources. Of particular relevance to marine fisheries, the conservation measures outlined in CBD include protected areas, regulation and management of biological resources, protection, rehabilitation, and restoration of degraded ecosystems and habitats. Under the framework of the Jakarta Mandate the Programme of Work on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity as well as the Programme of Work on Protected Areas provide a basis for implementing various measures for addressing the conservation needs, based on the ecosystem approach and the precautionary approach. Many actions arising form these Programmes of Work will have direct implications for sustainable use, and must be harmonized with fisheries management measures, 3. The 1975 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), aiming at protecting species that are clearly threatened by international trade. The trade of these species is governed by different sets of obligations depending on the severity of the threat and the type of appendix (I, II or III) in which the species is listed. A memorandum has been signed between FAO and CITES which collaborate towards adapting CITES criteria to fishery species. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), an independent international Panel has been established in FAO to advise the CITES Secretariat on the listing proposals. 4. The Global Plan of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Activities, established in 1995, has made substantial progress in addressing 6 of its 9 source categories (such as persistent organic pollutants [POPs]). The remaining categories where progress is needed include wastewater nutrients and the physical alteration and destruction of habitats and all have direct relevance to fisheries and biodiversity. 5. Regional Seas Conventions and associated Action Plans throughout the world s oceans provide protocols for dealing with issues directly related to fisheries and biodiversity including specially protected areas, integrated coastal management, and pollutants such as POPs. 6. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) deals with the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships. MARPOL Annex V completely prohibits discharge of synthetic fishing nets. However, the regulation does not apply to the accidental loss of synthetic fishing nets, provided that all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent such loss. Although there are many fisheries instruments at global and regional scales, their implementation has been incomplete and sometimes produces mixed results. There is a need to examine reasons why full success has not been achieved. There is also a need for evaluation of the FAO Technical Guidelines for the Precautionary Approach and the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries in relation to biodiversity conservation. Building on these examinations, each environmental instrument should be reviewed in terms of the role it

13 5 can play in filling policy gaps where they occur, and for addressing implementation gaps in the fisheries instruments Plans and measures The translation of principles and instruments into national policies, legislation and measures has been going on actively at global, regional and national levels. Guidelines have been made available and new protocols are being tested (e.g. regarding EAF). The main policy orientations and plans to rationalize fisheries and effectively rebuild overfished and depleted stocks have been developed at the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) with significant interaction with the UN General Assembly. Only a few of the possible measures are examined briefly below in terms of their relevance to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. EAF management planning Fisheries governance must be modernized, adopting formally and implementing effectively the ecosystem approach to fisheries (and the precautionary approach to fisheries), adaptive management processes, participative decision-making and implementation. For all fisheries, formal management plans (particularly EAF-based plans) should be adopted. For severely depleted stocks, moratoria should be considered and specific rebuilding plans must be developed. The EAF Process is the place where the harmonization of fisheries and biodiversity objectives must be achieved. The EAF process then allows the major biodiversity issues associated with a fishery to be identified, as a basis for the selection of tools to address them. Matching of capacity to resource and ecosystem productivity It has been a pre-eminent priority of sustainable fisheries to remove excess capacity and harmful subsidies, and to allocate individual or communal user rights in a manner that is appropriate for the social and economic context of the fishery. In fisheries where persistent overfishing occurs, these actions are usually necessary before there is reason to expect significant benefits from any of the other measures. Improving fisheries sustainability through managing capacity and allocation of rights will reduce the risk and/or magnitude of overfishing. To the degree that this succeeds, the risks and/or magnitude of the detrimental impacts of overfishing on biodiversity (2.1) are also reduced, although benefits are not targeted at individual biodiversity concerns. Optimization of fishing regimes and minimization of environmental impact This class of measures aims, inter alia, at addressing concerns related to selectivity, by-catch, discards and environmental impact. It includes: (i) area-based management measures (e.g. marine protected areas); (ii) disincentives to discarding (see Table 1); (iii) the development of new and improved fishing gears and fishing practices (e.g. rotational harvest, closed areas and seasons, Table 1). These measures can be specifically targeted at any specific biodiversity concern, and should be part of any dialogue on fisheries management. They are actually directed at the issues identified in the EAF process. Marine protected areas (MPAs) The development of marine areas networks requested by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) for biodiversity conservation might include marine protected areas (MPAs) specifically designed for fisheries management with stakeholders participation, within EAF. MPAs designed for fisheries management need to be looked at in combination with the other management measures for the fishery, to ensure the suite of measures work together to achieve their fishery objectives. In addition, when designing MPAs and other spatially based management tools for fisheries management objectives, it is desirable to ensure that the EAF process has successfully harmonized the fishery and biodiversity objectives, so the MPAs can be designed and managed to contribute to both classes of objectives. Where MPAs have been created to address biodiversity objectives, fisheries planning should take these MPAs into account in their planning process.

14 6 Market instruments In some places market measures have been used to increase the role of consumers in fisheries governance: particularly certification schemes and sustainable seafood campaigns. The first are driven essentially by the private sector (sometimes with direct involvement of non-governmental organizations [NGOs] like in the Marine Stewardship Council, [MSC] and involve formal and controlled labelling. They aim at assuring the consumers that the fish and fishery products offered have been sustainably produced. It is possible to build specific biodiversity considerations into these instruments and target specific biodiversity objectives, such as the several components of Principle 2 of the MSC certification standards. However, market instruments cannot be assumed to provide biodiversity benefits unless they have been intentionally built into the specific application of a market instrument. Market instruments have potential to contribute to biodiversity concerns in many ways but their real end impacts on fishery and biodiversity outcomes are still being assessed. Table 1 provides an overview of existing instruments and possible management measures with their relevance in relation to addressing overfishing, destructive fishing practices and IUU fishing. Social and economic measures In fisheries, the implementation of a range of social and economic measures and incentives, in addition to conventional measures, have proven to be very effective in fighting overcapacity and overfishing. Fishing rights improve behaviour by providing a sense of long term security in entitlements and an incentive to optimize production in the short and long term. A higher degree of participation in the decision-making process (including possibly the devolution of some management authority) can increase the legitimacy and relevance of the measures and, possibly, compliance. There is reason to believe that the same sort of strategies would also be useful to ensure conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Economic incentives, for instance, might be very effective in some cases, e.g. linking the granting of opportunities to fish to reducing catch of vulnerable or endangered species. However, a number of uncertainties exist. For example, there is not much experience in testing user rights in a multiresources, multi-user environment such as a costal area and experiments are needed. Strengthening of regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) In order to reduce the impact of overfishing on marine biodiversity regional fisheries management organizations/arrangements (RFMO/As) should be strengthened. Regional fisheries management organizations/arrangements have a central role to play in coordinating States efforts and establishing multilateral measures. They should: (i) take measures to control overfishing; (ii) increase collaboration with other mechanisms or organizations to address biodiversity concerns; and (iii) be developed in areas currently not covered. Filling information gaps Information on the essential characteristics of fisheries (effort maps, habitat maps, etc.) is often inadequate or not available. New observational technologies provide a detailed habitat characteristics and ecosystem structure and function which can complement information from research vessel surveys and analysis of commercial fisheries data. Improved collaboration between environmental and fisheries institutes could provide the information needed particularly to promote spatial considerations; the concept of underwater landscapes and of habitats continuity; the conservation of structural features in the habitat; the importance of scales in habitat characterization and rehabilitation; etc. 3. DESTRUCTIVE FISHING PRACTICES 3.1 Key conclusions on impacts All fishing activities have some impact and these have been well described in the literature. They may include: reduction of the target and non-target populations abundance and spawning biomass; modification or destruction of the habitat; modification of the food chain; modification of the phenotypes (e.g. size/age at reproduction, growth parameters) and possibly genotypes; changes in species dominance (e.g. increase of small prey species and decrease of top predators); and, in contaminated areas, recirculation of pollutants and aggravation of anoxia. However, these effects may largely be controlled by management and, if of limited extent and reversible, do not qualify as destructive.

15 7 Some of these modifications have been shown to be favourable to the target species as its food preys increase and their competitors are eliminated (e.g. in the case of flatfish in the North Sea or Hake in West Africa and the Mediterranean) leading to a sort of extensive farming at the expense of the original diversity. The impacts of destructive fishing practices can be direct and indirect as for overfishing and for the same reasons. Both direct and indirect impacts may be cumulative and their seriousness increases with their extension in space and time: 1. Direct/immediate effects are generally easily and rapidly detected such as local habitats destruction. Bottom trawling and dredging on benthic environments and communities with well-developed epifauna (such as seagrass, algal or bryozoan beds; tropical coral reefs, cold water corals; and sponge reefs) will be directly destructive when the structural complexity of the original habitat is removed and cannot replace itself in biologically appropriate timeframes. Biological timeframes must include recovery time of the feature itself and the time to recover its function in the ecosystem. 2. Indirect/delayed effects emerge as delayed response of the fishery system as the impact is transferred through the ecosystem to its point of emergence or as it accumulates to the point that it becomes visible. Endangering larval or juveniles survival by: (i) damaging their living habitat; (ii) releasing fatal contaminants trapped in the sediments; (iii) increasing natural mortality by reducing structural protection in complex habitats (e.g. removing large boulders or crushing corals) is an example. Impacts of destructive fishing as all impacts on a natural ecosystem have time and space dimensions: 1. In terms of time scale, it is useful to distinguish between immediate (usually direct) and delayed (likely indirect) impacts of destructive fishing. The first may result, for example, from physical damage to the habitat. The second may result from: (i) the transfer (and amplification) through the food chain or the ecosystem or (ii) the progressive accumulation or aggravation of an impact, e.g. through persistent or excessive fishing activity. 2. In terms of space scale, the impact of fishing could be locally destructive but still sustainable at the ecosystem level. While potentially destructive impacts on the target populations have usually been dealt with mainly within the concept of collapse or, more rarely, extinction, the term destructive fishing has been mostly used to refer to impact considered as severe or unacceptable on the broader environment of target populations and on the ecosystem. Extinction (or a high risk of extinction) of the resource and/or the productive ecosystem and its biodiversity is a potential outcome of destructive fishing. Good fisheries management should have detected the potential causes long before possible extinction has become an issue. However, any time a species is evaluated as being at risk of extinction a high degree of precaution is required. Serious overfishing may lead to destructive practices. Increasing fishing pressure beyond the level that can be tolerated by the system, for a protracted period of time, carries the risk to reach destructive levels of fishing. Measures to counteract overfishing should already have been taken by management before it has reached this level. Unaccounted mortality has become a subject of concern. ICES identified unaccounted mortalities related to: (i) misreporting; (ii) discarding, if the related deaths are not accounted for; (iii) escaping, e.g. encountering the gear but not being retained by it; (iv) dropping out during hauling; (v) ghost fishing; (vi) avoidance behaviour; (vii) habitat degradation; (viii) increased predation; and (ix) infections and diseases. These sources of mortality should be accounted for in the stock assessment and in the development of fisheries management plans. Studies of gear impacts suggest substantial differences in impacts on habitat can occur. Particularly vulnerable habitats include: 1. Habitats subject to very little natural disturbances e.g. by tides or storms, such as deep muddy grounds or seamounts or hot vents that can offer biologically-complex habitats are less resilient and may require longer recovery times than, say, sand dunes or battered coastal reefs. 2. Hard bottoms hosting fragile bio-structures such as hard corals (gorgonians and scleractinians), sea pens, and some large sponges used as habitats by a high diversity of life forms, may be severely affected by even moderate exposure to bottom gears;

16 In addition some populations and ecosystems could be particularly vulnerable: 8 Endemic island ecosystems where any local extinction is global by definition. Seamounts are a particular example of this case even though the degree of endemism is still being investigated. Source-sink populations which depend for their reproduction on imports from elsewhere (e.g. lobsters and conchs) due to the absence of suitable spawning areas or complex life cycles. They heavily depend on prevailing currents and can be driven to extinction by overfishing their source of offspring. Populations with particularly vulnerable life histories. 3.2 Action points for policy and management Any fishing activity qualifying for the adjective of destructive is incompatible with sustainable use and breaches all international instruments and agreements based on the UN LOSC, including the CBD. It is therefore States responsibility to limit the risk of destructive use to the minimum Drivers and constraints Both the drivers and constraints relative to destructive fishing practices are similar to those of overfishing. Many factors which are causes of overfishing become causes of destructive fishing practices when they occur at excessively high levels or persist over longer times. Failure to effectively address the constraints encountered when dealing with overfishing and biodiversity conservation often increases the risk that the unsustainable practices will become destructive. Furthermore, some of these constraints are even more difficult to overcome when fishing practices have become destructive Instruments and measures International and regional instruments The legal instruments available are the same as under section 2. All of these instruments contain obligations and commitments to fight against the negative impacts of fishing on marine organisms and therefore, a fortiori, against destructive fishing. However, in the case of destructive fishing practices, the biodiversity instruments may have to be given greater priority than the applicable fishery regulations in order to ensure ecosystem impacts are sustainable. As a consequence it may be necessary for fisheries managers to adapt the application of traditional fisheries instruments to accommodate the biodiversity instruments fully Plans and measures Reduction of fishing capacity Reducing fishing capacity will have all the benefits discussed in the corresponding part of Section 2. To the extent that the biodiversity concern has arisen because the intensity of a fishery practice has reached a level that is destructive, reducing capacity and effort will reduce the destructiveness of the practice, and if reduced enough the practice may cease to be destructive. However, in some cases the biodiversity concern may be a highly localized ecosystem feature, such as rare habitat or rare and highly vulnerable species. In those cases even large reductions in capacity may not address the destructiveness of the practice effectively, unless additional measures are added to target the remaining fishing effort away from the biodiversity feature of concern. However, even when reduction in effort alone may not be adequate to eliminate the destructive consequences of a fishing practice, the reduction in capacity may be a precondition for other measures to be implemented effectively. Risk assessment and management Assessing and managing risk requires its mapping. Where information exists, ecosystem features potentially damaged should be mapped and these maps should be used in environmental risk assessment (ERA). The 2008 FAO criteria for vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) and the 2008 CBD scientific criteria for ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs) will provide useful guidance.

17 9 Environmental impact assessment Environmental impact assessment (EIA) should be conducted in line with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 61\105 and the FAO International Guidelines of the management of deep-sea fisheries in the high seas and relevant national regulations. Adopting qualitative and/or quantitative environmental risk assessment as part of the EAF allows for early identification of the major risks of destructive fishing practices relative target species or biodiversity, and the development of strategies to avoid or mitigate the risks before the fishery is allowed to proceed. Monitoring Improved monitoring is necessary to ensure compliance or manage risk where conservation measures are in place to prevent destructive fishing practices, or where the risk of practices being destructive varies greatly in space or time. When the ecosystem features potentially at risk of destructive impacts are spatially located, then remote systems like vessel monitoring system (VMS), may be effective, if connected to monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) capability, and accompanied by deterrent penalties in case of non compliance. However some biodiversity properties of particular concern may not be effectively protected by solely spatial management, and in those cases on-board or at-site observation systems may be necessary. Capacity-building Insufficient implementation capacity is a serious issue in many coastal tropical and sub tropical fisheries characterized by high species diversity. Fishery authorities in these regions, especially those in developing countries, often lack the resources to effectively monitor fleet activity and report multispecies catches, which makes it particularly challenging to incorporate biodiversity considerations into fisheries management. Selectivity Improving selectivity has been a central concern of fishery management for decades. The issues relate to gear performance, fishing operations and monitoring. If gear performance can be adapted to reduce the catch of species of concern, then the related measures can mitigate the effect of fishing on biodiversity. Selectivity of fishing operations can also be improved by controlling when, where or how a fishery is allowed to operate. In order to be effective, more selective gear and operations must be carefully designed, thoroughly tested and implemented as intended in the fishery. In both cases, monitoring is also important. As noted under assessing and managing risk, on-board observers are necessary if the consequences of efforts to improve the selectivity of fishing gears or practices are to be monitored. When observers are present, additional measures to address potential destructiveness of fishing practices become available, such as flexible, real time closures of areas triggered by detection of the presence of vulnerable species or habitat features. Protecting vulnerable habitat Vulnerable habitats are those that can easily be damaged by a fishing activity, with detrimental consequences for biodiversity. As such, habitats vulnerability is specific to particular fishing practices. Some habitats may be vulnerable not because of their physical features but because of their ecological functions, such as migration corridors or spawning grounds. Banning specific gear practices: The deployment of mobile, bottom-contacting gears like trawls ands dredges on highly vulnerable habitats should be prohibited, unless mitigation measures known to be effective in reducing habitat impacts are in place. Particularly destructive techniques such as blast fishing are already universally banned but enforcement is not always adequate. Reducing poverty might be necessary in many places, in order to create the conditions where these particularly destructive techniques are abandoned by fishers. However, the instruments are not in the fishery sector. Closed areas including MPAs Because habitats are inherently spatial, closed areas and MPAs are likely to be effective in protecting vulnerable habitats from specific fishing practices, if they are appropriately situated and properly managed. When direct enforcement capacity may be weak, the placing of sleeping policemen or anti-trawling reefs in near-shore vegetated areas with an accompanying warning to fishing vessels, is one way of discouraging mobile gears in shallow water closures.

18 10 Rotating harvest schemes Rotational harvest schemes can protect vulnerable habitats when the rotation schedule is longer than the recovery time of the habitat. Gear substitution Gear substitution can be an effective measure to protect vulnerable habitats from destructive fishing practices, if the fishing practice being implemented has a much lower impact on the vulnerable habitat. However the full range of potential consequences of the proposed gear substitution should be evaluated ecologically and socio-economically, to understand the possible costs and benefits of the change before it is implemented. A number of factors currently limit the opportunity to substitute a destructive fishing gear with a cost effective alternative. This includes existence of allocation agreements, resistance to change, lack of economic incentives, compatibility of vessel and fishing gear, and operator experience. Using an alternative fishing gear may also affect the safety of the vessel and crew. Modifying or deploying a gear in a less harmful manner Some gears may be deployed in ways that reduce their interaction with vulnerable habitats. Such modification of practice can also be effective in reducing habitat damage, but as with gear substitution, the full range of potential consequences of the proposed gear substitution should be evaluated ecologically and socio-economically, to understand the possible costs and benefits of the change before it is implemented. Reducing ghost fishing A number of measures can be taken to reduce ghost fishing: (i) gear retrieval programmes may be set up for recovery of lost or abandoned gear in case these are significant. This is already the case in some countries (e.g. Norway, United States of America). The removal of the gear eliminates the threat that gear may pose to biodiversity; (ii) marking of fishing gear programmes will contribute to reducing detrimental impacts of ghost fishing on biodiversity only when there are programs to retrieve lost gear and the capacity to inflict penalties on fishers for the loss of gear; (iii) using biodegradable material for fishing gears that may be lost can contribute to reducing the impacts of ghost fishing on biodiversity whenever such materials will render lost or abandoned gear ineffective at catching or retaining species. Further development and testing of gears using biodegradable materials is needed; (iv) zoning could be a solution when interactions between gears are a significant factor in gear loss. For example, a clear separation of trawling and netting activities would reduce gear conflict and net loss; and (v) effective implementation of MARPOL Annex V would reduce the number of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gears in the world s oceans. Protecting vulnerable species Species or populations are considered vulnerable when either their life histories make them inherently able to sustain only a low level of mortality (low fecundity, late age of maturation, etc.) or if they have behaviours which expose a large portion of the population to threats from a fisheries practice (for example, dense spawning aggregations or migration bottlenecks) or other threat. The measures that reduce the threat include the reduction of the fishing pressure and area closures. When a species is vulnerable because of its life history, it is particularly important that fishing mortality on the population be kept very low, and that there is adequate MCS to ensure that the low mortality is achieved and maintained. Any of the tools discussed under overfishing might contribute to achieving the necessarily low mortality rate, depending on the species and fishery. What differs in the case of vulnerable species is the urgency of achieving the low mortality rate and the potential ecological costs of errors. When vulnerable species have suffered substantial reduction or depletion, the IUCN Red List and CITES listings provide additional moral and legal weight to efforts to keep mortality low. Responsible fisheries management should have intervened to reduce fishing mortality before these instruments apply, but in highly vulnerable species their added weight in implementation may be important. For species vulnerable because of their behaviour, the spatial tools used for habitat protection can be effective in protecting the species or population under the conditions of high vulnerability. As mentioned in reference to measures to improve selectivity in section , in order to be effective, the measures must be carefully designed, thoroughly tested and implemented as intended in the fishery. Table 2 provides examples of possible gear impacts and of related mitigation measures.

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